Delhi government data shows that in 2019, stubble burning accounted for 44% of air pollution in the national capital. After early instances began appearing in satellite imagery, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) in September wrote to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, asking the states to control cases of crop stubble burning.
What is stubble burning?
·The act of setting fire to crop residue that is left after grains like paddy, wheat, etc. have been harvested.
·It is done to prepare the field for the next season of sowing.
·It begins around October and peaks in November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.
·The pollutants and the Particulate Matter (PM) from the chaff, along with other sources of pollution in Delhi, makes winter air quality worse in Delhi and proximity.
·Reasons - Increase in Rice Acreage; Delayed sowing of paddy to late June to discourage groundwater extraction; delayed harvesting, stubble burning coincides perfectly with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon; Increased and modernised farm mechanisation extract the rice grains only and leave large quantities of rice stubble behind.
The EPCA report mentioned:
·The need to ensure small and marginal farmers have access to the mechanism which has been provided to Custom Hiring Centers (CHC) at affordable rates or free of cost.
·However, the authority has raised concern that the ‘rate for the rental’ which is been waived off is not apparent.
·The cost of operation is also not laid down and the states should ensure this for the farmer.
·The state governments may also be directed to set up a control room for monitoring daily fire reports and enforcement action that is being taken.
·In 2019, about 9.8 million tonnes of the total estimated crop residue of 20 million tonnes were burnt in Punjab.
·And in Haryana, of the total 7 million tonnes, 1.24 million tonnes of stubble were burnt.
·Use of Happy Seeder Machines
·Custom Hiring Centres to make the equipment available
·Promotion of shorter duration crops and rice varieties
·Using the stubble to feed cattle, manure, roofing, biomass, packaging etc.